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Poppies in Provence

by Emilie Johnson

Lavender is the emblem of Provence, n’est-ce pas? Not in the month of May! This month, the fields are roaring red all over the south of France. Poppies grow randomly and en masse in the fields that line the small, winding roads of Provence.

 

My daughters and I love to go poppy hunting. We knowingly turn down roads we don’t know well and follow them to the next turn, haphazardly choosing left or right, and so on. Suddenly a field of blazing red is there before us. We pull the car or bike over just to stand witness to the phenomenon. We wade into the wild fields up to our knees in thick red poppies. 

These fields are not deliberately seeded; poppies are just self-propagating machines. Many times the first field is only a fraction of what lies beyond - field after field unfurls into the distance: self-seeded explosions of crimson. Every year the peak locations shift a bit. Sometimes the poppies come back to where they were found the year before and sometimes, they arise in a new meadow, flooding the plot with color.

 

On a bike ride in our village this week, I stopped breathlessly near the rows of vineyards where the poppies had grown thick between each one. Stripes of green and red.

At the end of the day the fields swell with sensuality, velveteen waves. I stood in this one to watch the line of poppies in the distance swallow the sun.

May is a particularly dreamy time to come to Provence! Perfect weather, very few tourists, poppies in profusion...it is a dream.

 

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